Residents have say in mixing recreation and business
After a new law went into effect banning some commercial activity at Kailua and Kalama Beach Parks, the city is now asking residents what kinds of businesses can operate at the hundreds of other parks around Oahu.
Hawaii's parks provide many different activities for thousands each and every day, but city planners want to know what future activities should be allowed.
"The mothers that are strolling out there with their babies, that's fine. The tennis and surfing instructors, that's fine. What's not fine is people that want to sell alcohol in front of the zoo or trinkets to tourists," said Nancy Manali-Leonardo.
Many island businesses currently rely on commercial activities at Oahu's beaches or parks.
"I'm concerned with the city permitting for commercial filming because it may directly affect my wedding business," said Susan O'Donnell, with Aloha Wedding Planners.
Not all business activities are created equal in the eyes of the city. A paid tai che class at the park is not a problem.
But tennis instructors said they cannot get a permit to teach a lesson.
"For a small business, I want to follow the rules, but I also want the rules to be fair for everyone," said O'Donnell.
Some want the current rules to be updated so it is not just businesses making money, but also the city.
"The City and County of Honolulu is losing out. They don't make a penny when they don't issue permits. With an expanded permitting process, an hourly fee, or any kind of fair system, the city can pay for maintenance for the parks. That's a win, win situation," said tennis instructor David Chang.
City planners want each community to determine just how much and what kind of commercial activity should be allowed at the nearly 300 city parks around Oahu.
"If they are okay with these activities, then we'll promulgate rules. Then it will become a standard that everyone can follow, even though it may vary from community to community," said Honolulu Park's Director Gary Cabato.
While commercial activity may be banned, the city does issue temporary concession contracts for non-profit events like festivals, which in the past have also included food or merchandise sales.
Cabato said there is concern that future activities like North Shore surf events, which have a huge impact both in and out of the water, will need environmental impact statements before they'll be issued permits.
Tuesday's public meeting will be held at Waialua District Park at 5 p.m. Wednesday's public meeting will be held at Kaneohe District Park at 5 p.m. Thursday's public meeting will be held at Waianae District Park at 5 p.m.
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